Wednesday, October 6, 2010

End of day

Those few minutes before children fall asleep are often the most enlightening of the day. If you pay attention, that's when you're likely to learn details or clues from the day without any prying at all.

Cooper had some rough moments at school and some trying times at home this afternoon. We talked through what had bothered him before moving on to spelling words and his campaign poster for student council.

(His campaign slogan comes from a phrase that Steve and I taught him when he was 2: "You can't cooperate without Cooper.")

After Katie was in bed, Cooper and I visited a few more minutes.

"My heart is sad about three things," he told me.

1. Our friend Cole, who is recovering from a football injury
2. A classmate at school
3. Daddy

I gave him an update on Cole, assuring him that though Cole faces some big hurdles, he's eventually going to be OK.

We talked through some strategies on dealing with the classmate.

And I asked him to tell me more about how he was feeling about Daddy.

"Why couldn't you have found the tumor two years earlier so that we could have taken it out?"

I explained that we don't know exactly when the tumor began, but we think he had it for just a few months, definitely less than a year, when we discovered it.

And I told him that because of the tumor's type and unfortunate location (longtime readers will recall that notorious phrase from early in the process), there's not much we could have done.

"Well, we could have given him medicine earlier and he could have lived longer," Cooper replied.

"Maybe, Cooper," I said as I sighed. "We just don't know. And we can't change how everything happened."

Then I gave him a few more details about how cancer cells work (as best as a journalist with no formal medical training can) and why the brain stem is a highly dangerous surgical area.

"I think of cancer cells as soldiers," Cooper said. "And they want more and more reinforcements, so they just keep making new soldiers."

He added, "But I wish we could have wiped out Daddy's cancer cells."

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